Sushil Chandra Takes Charge As New CEC

Sushil Chandra assumed charge as the 24th Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) on Tuesday.

Sushil Chandra was appointed as the new CEC by President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday, the day Sunil Arora demitted office. Chandra was appointed as an Election Commissioner on February 14, 2019, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

He is set to demit office on May 14, 2022, and will oversee the conduct of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, and Manipur as the CEC. While the terms of assemblies in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, and Manipur are set to end March 2022, the term of Uttar Pradesh Assembly will end in May 2022.

During his over two-year tenure as an Election Commissioner, Chandra supervised assembly elections of more than 10 states and worked towards making the entire nomination process online.

The online process allowed candidates to file e-nomination directly, making the system faster. It also allowed the error-free feeding of the candidate’s information and uploading of affidavits in the system. The candidate-related information is also made available in the public domain through the Affidavit Portal and Voter Helpline App on the same day when the nomination is filed.

Before his appointment in the EC, Chandra was the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).

Under his leadership, CBDT in 2017 started ‘Operation Clean Money’ in a bid to curb illegal wealth and black money.

Chandra has worked towards curbing the menace of black money during the election. He has emphasized the need for inducement-free elections and steps have been taken in this direction by the poll panel including the appointment of special expenditure observers.

As per the website of the EC, Chandra belongs to the 1980 Batch of the Indian Revenue Service. He has been Election Commissioner in ECI since 15th February 2019. He is also Member of the Delimitation Commission since 18th February 2020 looking after the Delimitation of Jammu Kashmir UT.

Having held several posts in the Income-Tax Department for nearly 39 years, Chandra was appointed CBDT Chairman on 1st November 2016. He spent considerable time as Director of Investigation and Director General of Investigation, Mumbai and Gujarat, respectively followed by his stint as Member (Investigation), CBDT and thereafter assuming the post of Chairman of this Apex body.

Chandra has constantly emphasised the concept of “inducement-free” elections and it has become an integral dimension of monitoring the electoral process in all ongoing and forthcoming elections. Process of focused and comprehensive monitoring through the deployment of special expenditure observers, activating the role of many more enforcement agencies in the process of election expenditure monitoring, more exhaustive and frequent reviews of observers and other agencies are few of the aspects of electoral management encouraged by him.

During his tenure as Chairman, CBDT, he had played an active role in unearthing illegal money often used during Assembly Elections. With his continuous monitoring the seizures of cash, liquor, freebies, narcotics have increased substantially in recent elections.

His contributions are also reflective in systemic changes like Form 26 which has now become an integral part of essential paperwork. Chandra as Chairman CBDT took special efforts in the area of verification of affidavits filed by the candidates before elections. In 2018 in his role as Chairman CBDT, he was instrumental in evolving a uniform format of sharing details of all assets and liabilities not mentioned in the affidavits of the candidates.

An avid proponent of the use of technology, Chandra has overseen implementation of recent IT applications for facilitating electoral processes.

Chandra has been instrumental in the exchange of Best Electoral Practices among the Electoral Management Bodies internationally. In June 2019 he participated in the Presidential Election process of Kazakhstan as an International Election Observer. He was invited to the 18th Cambridge Conference on Electoral Democracy in the Commonwealth Trinity College, Cambridge, UK in July 2019. He participated in the 3rd Plenary Assembly of Global Network Electoral Justice conference held in Los Cabos, Mexico in November 2019. He also attended the 2nd Electoral Studies Program Conference in Bali in December 2019.

Born on May 15, 1957, Chandra did his B.Tech from IIT Roorkee (BE Civil, 1977). He received Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater on November 25, 2019. He also holds a degree in LLB from DAV College, Dehradun and has undergone various trainings at IMF, IIM Bengaluru and Wharton on management. Before joining the Indian Revenue Service, he was in the Indian Engineering Service. (ANI)

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